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UEFA announce major change for Champions League knockout stages

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The adidas UCL Pro Ball London alongside the trophy at Wembley Stadium [via UEFA]

UEFA have unveiled a notable change ahead of the resumption of the Champions League, with the knockout stages of the competition due to begin this week.

Manchester City continue their bid to retain the Champions League with a last-16 tie against FC Copenhagen, with Pep Guardiola’s side still in contention to potentially reach two finals at Wembley Stadium this season.

The treble-winners remain in the hunt to retain the Premier League, Champions League and Emirates FA Cup, with Manchester City having fixtures across all three competitions during February.

City face FC Copenhagen in the first-leg of their last-16 tie at the Parken Stadium in Denmark on Tuesday evening, with the Sky Blues travelling to the Danish capital for the second consecutive season.

Manchester City faced the Superliga outfit in the group stages last season, winning 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium and drawing 0-0 at the Parken Stadium.

Guardiola’s side won all six matches in Group G this season, meanwhile FC Copenhagen reached the knockout stages ahead of both Manchester United and Galatasaray.

City are currently on a 10-match winning streak across all competitions, having extended the winning run with an important 2-0 win over Everton in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

Ahead of Tuesday’s first-leg clash, UEFA have unveiled a fresh change for the knockout stages, launching a official match ball named: UCL Pro Ball London.

The adidas ball features two roaring lions fighting among the traditional Champions League stars, celebrating London, the host city for the 2024 Final.

A statement on the UEFA website said: “Official match ball supplier adidas have unveiled the ball that will be used for the remainder of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League season, culminating in the final at Wembley Stadium on 1 June: the UCL Pro Ball London.

“The eye-catching design celebrates the final host city, London, with vibrant graphics featuring two roaring lions fighting among the stars. The lion is symbolic of the rich history and culture of the UK and its capital city, and also represents the bravery and strength of the players and the majesty of European club football’s most coveted trophy.

“The ball features a range of adidas performance technology, including an innovative PRISMA surface texture that provides Europe’s elite players even more precision. The outer texture coating offers secure grip and complete control, while the thermally-bonded seamless construction guarantees ultimate performance.”

Manchester City are looking to reach their third Champions League Final after success in Istanbul last June and defeat to Chelsea in Porto in 2021.

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